Volvo S90 review
The Volvo S90 is a handsome and well-equipped rival to German exec models, but is not quite as good to drive
The Volvo S90 is the company's best crack yet at taking on the dominant German brands in the premium executive saloon sector.
Its diesel engines aren’t quite the best in class, but they’re refined, and the Swedish sophistication in the cabin makes it an appealing environment in which to undertake long journeys. It’s not as plush all round as a Mercedes E-Class - but it’s pleasant enough.
The real strengths of Volvo’s offering are that cruising refinement and, as is often the case with Volvo, the amount of safety kit on board. Indeed, the S90 also gets a decent haul of regular equipment, making it one of the better-kitted offerings in an area of the market that traditionally has long options lists.
The driving dynamics aren’t on a par with the class benchmark, though; the S90 isn’t quite as agile as the likes of the 5 Series, and it doesn’t soak up bumps as effectively as an E-Class.
In terms of size and price, the Volvo S90 is a rival to the main German executive saloons that offers something slightly different. While the range is limited to Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trims, all cars are well equipped. But while that mid-spec R-Design version might seem sporty, all cars offer plenty of comfort at the expense of sharp handling.
Engines are all 2.0-litres in size, with D4 and D5 diesel, T4 and T5 petrol and T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid versions available. While there are no V6 or even V8 versions, these engines offer a good spread of power, and help the S90 compete against its rivals. These include the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6, plus the Jaguar XF and Lexus ES, which offer something different from the German norm.
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All cars use an 8-speed auto gearbox, with the D4, T4 and T5 cars featuring front-wheel drive, while the D5 PowerPulse and T8 Twin Engine feature Volvo's AWD four-wheel drive system. Momentum cars only come with the D4 and T4 engines, while R-Design and Inscription feature the full engine line-up.
The D4 and D5 diesels have 187bhp and 232bhp respectively, while the T4 and T5 petrols are 187bhp and 247bhp. The performance star of the range (as well as the economy champ) is the T8 plug-in, which has around 385bhp courtesy of its petrol engine and electric motor. Fuel economy of up to 166mpg is claimed, although of more interest will be the all-electric driving range of up to 35 miles, and company car friendly emissions of 40g/km. These figures offset the high list price of the T8 model, which starts from around £57,000.
Go for a Momentum model, which start from around £38,000, and you won't be left wanting for kit. All cars get keyless entry, LED headlights, auto wipers, a powered tailgate, two-zone climate control, heated leather seats and a full infotainment system with sat-nav and connected services. That's in addition to a huge list of safety kit that includes anti-collision tech that can help reduce the risk of collisions with other traffic or the car running off the road completely.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Volvo S90 is a handsome and well-equipped rival to German exec models, but is not quite as good to drive
- 2Engines, performance and driveExcellent cruising refinement, but the chassis feels either too stiff or too soft. Larger wheels dent ride quality, too
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsFour-cylinder diesels are efficient everyday, but T8 hybrid needs plugging in to make the most of it
- 4Interior, design and technologyDistinctive, stylish and nicely finished
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBoot isn't the biggest in the class, but capable enough for most needs; rear seats can feel a little hemmed in
- 6Reliability and SafetyEngines and chassis are still new, but Volvo's new tech and four-cylinder engines are proving reliable